Premier League referees chief calls emergency meeting after major Var errors

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Var fails to examine whether Brentford midfielder Christian Norgaard was offside

The Premier League’s referees’ chief Howard Webb has summoned all officials to an emergency meeting after two major Var errors took place in separate matches on Saturday.

Brentford’s equalising goal at Arsenal was wrongly allowed to stand because of a human error by the video assistant referee, who failed to draw the correct offside lines.

And Brighton had a goal incorrectly ruled out in their match against Crystal Palace after the offside line was drawn from the wrong defender.

Webb has now called the summit, to take place at Stockley Park, because of the seriousness of the mistakes which may have ramifications for the officials involved: Lee Mason, who did not put the right lines down to discover whether a Brentford player was offside in the build-up, and John Brooks who appeared to identify the wrong Palace defender.

Brooks is due to be the Var for the Merseyside derby on Monday and Arsenal against Manchester City on Wednesday but it remains to be seen whether he is stood down.

The mistakes could have a significant impact on the Premier League title race, with Arsenal dropping two points as a result of Ivan Toney’s goal being allowed to stand, and on the battle for the European places.

Webb, the new chief refereeing officer of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), spoke to Arsenal and Brighton on Sunday to discuss the “significant errors”.

Howard Webb is the Premier League's referee chief - Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Howard Webb is the Premier League’s referee chief – Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In a statement, the PGMOL said: “PGMOL can confirm its Chief Refereeing Officer Howard Webb has contacted both Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion to acknowledge and explain the significant errors in the VAR process in their respective Premier League fixtures on Saturday.

“Both incidents, which were due to human error and related to the analysis of offside situations, are being thoroughly reviewed by PGMOL.”

In the match between Arsenal and Brentford, Var operator Mason did not examine whether Brentford midfielder Christian Norgaard was offside before crossing for Toney to score.

It is understood that Mason had instead focused on a possible offside offence a few seconds earlier, involving Ethan Pinnock and Arsenal defender Gabriel, before failing to “fully investigate” Norgaard’s positioning.

Ethan Pinnock grapples with Arsenal defender Gabriel

Ethan Pinnock grapples with Arsenal defender Gabriel

On Sunday, Brentford said Toney was sent a series of abusive and racist messages on social media following the match.

Brentford said they were “disgusted and saddened” by the abuse and vowed to do everything in their power to pursue the people who have sent the messages to the striker.

Toney suffered similar abuse earlier this season, leading to a 24-year-old man apologising in court for racially abusing the Brentford player. Antonio Neill, from Northumberland, is set to return to court for sentencing in March.

“Immediately after Brentford’s game against Arsenal, Ivan Toney received a barrage of abusive, racist direct messages via his Instagram account,” Brentford said in a statement.

“We are disgusted and saddened that Ivan has had to deal with this yet again. We will not tolerate it and we will do everything we can to pursue the individuals involved.

“Ivan was subject to similar abuse in October last year, and the perpetrator is now facing the consequences in court. How many times does this need to happen?”

In Brighton’s draw at Selhurst Park, the offside line was drawn from the wrong Palace defender after Pervis Estupinan had scored for Roberto De Zerbi’s side.

Var draws the wrong offside lines at Selhurst Park

Var draws the wrong offside lines at Selhurst Park

“As was confirmed to the club by PGMOL last night, a serious error was made in disallowing Pervis Estupinan’s goal at Crystal Palace yesterday afternoon,” Brighton said on Sunday.

“The lines drawn in the Var room to determine whether Pervis was in an offside position were drawn incorrectly, and the goal should have stood.

“While hugely disappointed by the error, the club has accepted PGMOL’s apology and will not be making any further comment.”

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